European competition authorities are to launch a "disciplinary procedure" on December 18 against seven Spanish football clubs which have allegedly benefited from years of unfair financial advantages, reports El País.
EU authorities suspect Real Madrid, FC Barcelona, Athletic Bilbao and Osasuna de Pampelune failed comply with a legal requirement to become public companies. Real Madrid is being probed over claims it took advantage of illegal public funding to develop real estate sites owned by the club. Meanwhile Valencia, Elche and Hércules de Alicante, are suspected of receiving illegal public support in the form of bank guarantees provided by the Valencia regional government.
The Spanish government has been given three months to prepare an official response to the allegations. Brussels has the power to insist that millions in aid be reimbursed. With this decision, "Brussels has put the Liga in the stocks," remarks El País, which believes that the next step for the EU may be —
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… to punish Spain for the links established between football, public authorities and the construction sector.
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